I’m 18 now….
Childhood is really fleeting; it only lasts for 18 years. That is what we are told, according to the laws of our land.
Once we reach 18, we can drink alcohol, smoke and buy cigarettes, vote and best of all earn our own living and live by our own rules……
In the country where I live you can legally have sex at 17, so technically you can get or get someone pregnant too.
Not many 17 year olds have left home, have a full time job or are self-sufficient.
So where does the responsibility lay? Whether pregnant or not once a person is 17 or 18 and still living at home, does that give them an instant right to live their life their way, under their parent’s roof?
At 18 the parent is still paying for the house that they all live in. Is still going to the grocery store to buy the groceries. Is still paying all the utilities. The most important one, especially for the 18-year-old, is the electricity which is needed for the broadband which is needed for the 18 hours per day that they wish to spend on their phone, snapping, tick tocking or you tubing.
When I was 18 the only ‘snap’ I had heard of was a game of cards or if someone had worn or bought the exact same thing as me and we saw that in the real world when we bumped into each other, not in a virtual world where we may never have ever met, but are ‘best friends’.
Yes, call me old fashioned, if I were 18 I probably would too. I would probably think that I am ancient because I have just turned 56…. practically one foot in the grave! But I am not 18 and neither do I think that I am ancient. I do think that I am a responsible parent though.
Having raised 5 girls, I can honestly say that the worst time raising them was during their teenage years. They are sulky, moody, stroppy, self-indulgent, untidy, cheeky, and often very lazy.
They are still my children and I love them but I do not like what they morph in to during these testing years.
I have one left. The other 4 have gone and are all living their own lives, with their own rules, in their own independent ways, some raising their own children and I say hallelujah, praise the lord and best of luck to them, for the world is a great place to be!
This last one, as lovely as she is, and she is lovely, has always pushed my buttons and tested my boundaries. She is the ultimate social butterfly…. Or wants to be.
Covid 19 couldn’t have come at a worse time for her. She was looking forward to turning 18, to finishing school, getting a tattoo, to going out with friends to pubs and night clubs, to flying off to Italy and be an au pair for the summer before college started in the Autumn. Except, none of that happened except college did, sporadically, between online and on campus.
Now I understand her frustrations at all of that. Covid 19 has not been a particularly welcome or pleasant experience for all of us. It has been scary, frustrating, difficult and also for some, fatal.
There have been some positives for people, getting more creative, re-evaluating their lives and changing direction etc.
So what can we do with our 18 year olds that want to go against the rules, the Governments rules and hang out with their friends. We have to say No, right. That isn’t us being ‘controlling’, that is us being ‘responsible’ ‘conforming’ ‘adhering to the rules’.
Friends are important, I know that and understand that. I miss my friends too. But, when my 18-year-old wanted to go and spend the Easter Break up where her digs are, where she attends college, and hang out with her friends, I put my foot down. Why?
I couldn’t trust that they would social distance properly. I couldn’t trust that she would become complacent and bring the dreaded virus home to us and then ultimately our other children and grandchildren. But, not only that, I was actually hurt and disappointed that she did not want to spend the Easter break at home with her family. That she felt she had no responsibility or even desire to be here.
When she is here, she is like a lodger. She comes out of her room for food and back she goes again on the phone. She is constantly with her friends in the virtual world. Is it wrong to want her to be a part of the real family in the real world? To participate in family life for more than just meal times? Am I wrong in thinking she has an addiction to her phone?
She does not work. She has a college grant. That pays for her lodgings when in college. Yet, she wants to go hang out with friends over Easter ‘because she’s 18 now’.
Ok so let’s compare. At 18 I was working full time. At 18 I had a bedsit. At 18 I did my own shopping. At 18 I did my own cooking and laundry. At 18 I had a boyfriend and went to the pub. At 18 I was totally independent and could live by my own rules. At 18 if I went home and my boyfriend did I slept in my bedroom and he slept in my brother’s bedroom. At 18, if I went home I abided by the rules of my mother’s house. At 18 I called that being respectful and responsible. At 18 I just knew, that is the way that it was.
I have been a strict parent. I want my girls, all of them, to be strong independent women. I want them to stand on their own two feet. I want them to challenge things, including me but, when at 18, they are not ‘earning’ their own money, not doing their own shopping, cooking, cleaning, bill paying etc. etc. and live under my roof, is it too much to ask that they abide by my rules.
I have a rule that she goes to bed the same time as me. I usually stay up ‘til midnight or after. It has always been the way. Unless they were out with boyfriends, clubbing it in which case they would just come home and go straight to bed.
This one cannot go clubbing it because of Covid, so the last thing I want is her up all night on her phone, leaving it charging, being a fire risk or keeping me awake with chitter chatter and burning lights all night. She already can’t get up in the mornings. We are lucky if we see her before lunch time.
Yes, yes yes teenagers need more sleep, or so they say. Go to bed earlier then, is what I say…
The point is, when does their ‘responsibility’ kick in. To converse, to observe, to happily want to participate in family life. To happily want to seek a job and work during the holidays and earn a few bob?
Has this generation gotten so bad that it actually thinks that they are just ‘entitled’ to do very little by way of being helpful or respectful, and expect to spend every waking moment with friends, either online or offline.
Do they all think they are just going to be the next big sensation on you tube or be the next big influencer in applying a shiny nose in a ‘trowel it on’ make up tutorial where everyone looks the same as a Bratz doll?
I mean, come on people. Surely you want more for yourself than that. Something that you can achieve and be proud of based on your own judgment of yourself and your effort. Surely you don’t really need the approval of ‘strangers’ in a world that you may never ever meet them.
If so, I ask of you to ask of yourself, why. Why do you need that? Why not put your phone down? Talk to the people in front of you. Take an interest in what is going on in your own home, in your own family and balance your life with real family and real friends.
Your family cared for you, nurtured you, protected you, loved you, even when you were sometimes not very lovable.
Your family are not asking you to forsake your friends or to forsake yourself. They are saying the exact opposite. Be happy in yourself, with your own approval. Work hard, real work, where you can have a sense of achievement. Ask, ‘is there something I can do for you’ and take some ‘responsibility’ for the lifestyle that you want to live.
The Government are controlling all of us at the moment because of the Global Pandemic. Yes it sucks, but in order to get rid of it, we must abide by the rules, don’t we?
If you want to live how you want, when you want, with whomever you want, then do it. Get a job, get a flat, get the bills and all the paraphernalia that goes with independence. It really is a fantastic thing. I know I loved it when I was 18, standing on my own two feet, whilst also going home and spending time with my family. Go on, just do it!
Turning 18 is not a licence to say, I will do what I want, whether you like it or not. Turning 18 is about growing up. Being a grown up means, taking responsibility and not just expecting to still keep ‘playing’ like you did when you were a child, then throwing dolly out of the pram when you don’t get your own way. After all, you are 18 now!